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Prisoner of War

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She was in her room. There was a bandage over her forehead where the car window cut, just above her eye brow.


Change the bandage every seventy-two hours.


It was dark in the hotel room. Shaw found comfort in the dark, but tonight was different, tonight’s silence was overwhelming, because she could hear her mother’s silent sobs from within the bathroom.


Sameen knew that death made people sad.


She had a dog that died when she was seven. Buddy ran out into the street and got hit by a car. The driver apologized over and over again, and then her dad picked up the dog and put him in the back of the truck. They drove to the vet together, and on the way her dad told her that sometimes bad things happen and people, and pets go to sleep, and they don’t wake up.


“Why don’t they wake up?” she asked.


“Because once they go to a better place, they can’t come back,” he said.


It didn’t make a lot of sense to her at the time, but she could hear the dog whimpering in the back, and Shaw realized that it was better for him to go to sleep then to be in pain.


That’s why after they put him down, she didn’t cry.


“It’s okay to cry,” her mom said.


“But I don’t need to cry,” Shaw said, noticing the look of confusion on the older woman’s face.


And now here they were, and instead of her dog being dead, her dad was, and she still couldn’t muster up the will to cry.


Yes, she was sad. Sad for her mother, sad she wouldn’t see him again, but he was in a better place, so how could she be sad for him? He died, and that was in the past, so why focus on that?


Shaw quietly got out of the hard motel bed, and stood outside the bathroom door separating her and her mother. She thought that if she could just cry, if she could find it in her to shed a tear then maybe her mom would feel better, but no matter how hard she tried, how long she listened to her mother’s sobs, and pictured the lifeless body of her dad after the tire blew, the emotions never came.




“Emotions are a tricky, tricky thing my dear,” Greer said in his cultured accent.


“Are you just trying to talk to me death, or are you gonna send Martine in here to finish the job,” Shaw said, still drowsy from the new string of drugs coursing through the IV.


“Miss Shaw, we have no desire to kill you, if we did, you would have never left the Stock Exchange alive,” he said.


“The three bullet holes in my gut beg to differ,” she replied.


“I do apologize for the extreme actions we had to take to get you here, but it’s not like you would have come with us voluntarily,” Greer said.


“Increasing crime throughout the city and trying to have your robot overload take over the world doesn’t exactly come across as an invitation to join club Samaritan,” Shaw said.


Greer smirked. “Enough talk about Samaritan, let’s talk about you,” he said changing the subject.


“There’s not much to discuss. I’m a simple girl. I like pancakes, and dogs, long walks on the beach, oh, and shooting people, especially people like you,” Shaw said.


“You’re very funny Sameen. I’m going to enjoy getting to know you, but you of all people should know, you’re in no situation to be making jokes,” Greer said.


“And just when I thought we were all friends here,” Shaw said.


“Someone like you must not have a lot of friends. Friendships are born through connections and sociopaths have trouble forming those very connections,” he said.


“I do alright.”


“You do, and I think it’s because deep, deep down you do care. You care about those people you call a team, you care about the lives of people you don’t even know, and you care how this war ends,” Greer said, pausing. “You, my dear, or not as incapable of caring for others as you think, which is why when we ask you how Miss Groves talks to the Machine you are going to tell us, because whether you like it or not, you care about her.”


Shaw thought back to Gen. The feelings are there, you just have to listen. No she wasn’t going to listen, not now, not while captured by Samaritan.


For now she would settle for anger, because anger didn’t need listening too, it was already there.


“Go fuck yourself.”




Shaw remembers how it felt to be told she would never be a doctor.


She felt angry because it wasn’t her fault she couldn’t connect with her patients, and make their family feel better. That wasn’t her job. Her job was to save lives, and she did that every time she put on the lab coat, so why was she being told that being a doctor just wasn’t for her?


It’s not like she purposely wanted to insult the patients, or say the wrong thig, it’s just the way she was born.


An Axis ll Personality Disorder. She had diagnosed herself around the time of her father’s death. Her mother had taken her to a therapist, concerned that she wasn’t correctly coping with the loss.


“How did you feel when you found out your dad was dead?” the man with the circular glasses, and white hair asked her, and she shrugged in response.


“Empty, I guess,” Shaw said.


“What do you mean by empty?” he said, and she could tell she said the wrong thing.


“Like a balloon with no air in it,” she said, hoping he understood.


The therapist wrote something down in his notepad, before speaking once again. For the next hour all his questions started with “how did you feel when,” or “how do you feel about,” and Shaw found herself feeling nothing at all.


At the end of a sessions, he went over to his mother, and said something that made her face drop. Shaw wondered what he said to her, and on the car ride home, they stopped at the graveyard to visit her dad.


Shaw didn’t get why people did that. He was already dead, talking to him wasn’t gonna make him come back, or fix what had happened, but she stayed silent while her mother placed a flower by the stone.


She whispered, “ Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'oon,” before taking Shaw’s hand and leaving .


They never went back to the therapist’s office, because Shaw didn’t need a therapist to know that she was different.




The electricity was shocking her, chilling her bones. Shaw could see the outline of Martine’s wicked smile as she turned the dial, higher each time.


Shaw had been tortured before, (she thought of zip ties, and an iron). Shaw had also done a lot of torturing in her day, and she didn’t want to sound cocky, but she was pretty damn good at it. Unfortunately for her, so was Martine, and it was becoming harder and harder to still the screams in the back of her throat.


The electricity stopped, and the familiar sensation of numbness took its place.


Once Shaw’s vision cleared, she saw that there was a cell phone not even five inches away from her hand. She tried to reach for it, but her arm wouldn’t budge, the binds tight enough to draw blood.


“Go ahead, call your team, let them know that you’re alive,” Martine said, with a grin.


Shaw struggled to no avail. The phone was right there, so close, but so far. She couldn’t remember the last time she heard the voices of Finch, Reese, and Root… That last thing she remembered was Root’s screams while the elevator closed in the stock exchange, as she was shot down.


It was supposed to be a kiss goodbye, but with just the push of the buttons on the phone, Shaw could say hello.


Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hell – this was hell.  


Shaw didn’t feel, but dammit, if she could, she thinks she would feel like she was dying.




Iraq was heat, and sand, and fire, and it was everything Shaw craved.


The sound of the gunfire out in the night was like a lullaby that lulled her to sleep. While some of the other soldiers went crazy from the constant threat, Shaw thrived in the thrill of it all.


She wondered if her dad felt the same way, or if it was different for him because he had a family back home. Shaw, though, would have no one waiting for her when the plane landed. While her fellow soldiers ran into the arms of their wives, husbands, and mothers, she would catch a cab to a bar, wherever state they were in, and drink a scotch for America.


Most people couldn’t wait for the tour to end, and to go back home, but Shaw couldn’t wait to get away, and escape back into the comfort of a gun in her hand, and the sweat dripping down her face as the heavy uniform hung on her shoulders, with sand all around her for miles.


The generals, and commanders didn’t care that Shaw, well, didn’t care. They treated her as an equal, and Shaw wouldn’t forget the push up contests she would have with the guys, contests that she always won.


On her third tour, she was caught in a convoy explosion while transporting resources to a neighboring village of allies. The Humvee flipped, and Shaw was flung from the vehicle. Gunfire erupted around her, as the soldiers trapped in the truck were surrounded by rebels.


Shaw’s head was pounding, and she was pretty sure there was a shard of glass from the car window lodged in her side. Still, she reached for her gun a few feet away from her and fired through the smoke, and pain, and nauseous. She fired until the enemy gunfire went silent, and soon later everything else did as she passed out.


When she woke up in a medical section of a plane with a bandage wrapped around her stomach, and one on her head. For a minute Shaw was back in that hotel room listening to her mother’s sobs through the bathroom door.


There was an IV in her arm, and her memory was a little fuzzy, and there was a soldier sitting by her bed. Shaw recognized him. His name was Leo. He was in the Humvee with her when they were attacked. There was a sling around his right arm, and he had a few cuts and bruises on his face, but he looked fine other than that.


“How many casualties?” she asked in a hoarse voice, her side throbbing as she moved to sit up.


“None, you saved us all Shaw,” he said.


“I was just doing my job,” she said, relieved that there were no deaths.


“I have a kid on the way,” Leo said. “And thanks to you I’m gonna live to be a dad.”


“Get out of here before you start crying and make me look bad,” Shaw said, earning a smile.


“Get some rest Shaw, it’s gonna be a long ride home.”


She would wake up to an officer telling her she was discharged from the army.


“You were a good soldier, Shaw,” they would say to her, without an explanation to why this was happening.


Shaw would willing give her life to her country, so why was her country discarding her like a broken disc. She left the airport, and went straight to a bar, this time without the knowledge that she wouldn’t be returning back to war.


There she would be approached by a man in a suit. He bought her a drink, and then offered her a job working for the ISA.


“We could use someone like you,” he said.


“And who exactly are you?” Shaw asked.


“You can call me Hersh.”


And with one last sip of her scotch, she was going back to war, back to where she belonged.




Shaw thought a lot about the Order of Lenin, while bound to a hospital bed, most likely in a Samaritan facility somewhere unknown.


It was awarded for outstanding services rendered to the State, exemplary service in the armed forces, promoting friendship and cooperation between peoples and in strengthening peace, and meritorious services to the Soviet state and society.


Those awarded with that metal were known as heroes.


It’s easy to think about war when you’re a prisoner of one. Yes, this war wasn’t exactly a worldwide one, and there were far less casualties, but it was a war none the less, and one that she was willing to sacrifice her life for.


Sometimes she wished she had died. It would have been an honorable death for the life she lived, one her father would have been proud of. A death worthy for a hero, if she could call herself as much.


“War requires sacrifice, you of all people should know that,” Greer said, in her room once again.


Shaw stayed silent, her head a little dizzy from the latest cocktail.


“Do you considered yourself a hero, my dear?” he asked.


“I was just trying to--,” she started before being interrupted.


“Trying to what? Save your team? Win this war? Why you? Why did you of all people push the override button?” he asked.  


“I pushed it because no one else deserved to die,” Shaw said, the drugs making her feel weirder than usual. What did they give me this time?


“And here you are still alive. Is this a second chance perhaps, for you to choose the right side?”


“Second chances are overrated,” she said, before the drugs put her to sleep.




 A lot of things, in Sameen Shaw’s mind were overrated. Like talking, relationships, feelings, and second chances. Yet after Cole was killed, and she woke up in the back of the ambulance with a dog licking her face, after faking her death, Shaw realized that sometimes second chances were necessary.


So when Harold Finch offered her a job, she took it, because even presumed dead, Shaw hated being bored.


Lucky for her, when she was with Root, once she kinda, sorta joined the team, and stopped being murderous, things were never boring.


Root would push, and push Shaw to get a reaction out of her, and sometimes Shaw would slip, and get flustered or angry, but most times she’d just roll her eyes.


It was the mission she cared, about, not Root. It wasn’t her fault that Root was always going all kamikaze on then, and Shaw was the one who had to go and save her before she messed everything up. Root was a direct line to the Machine after all, she was a valuable member of the team whether Shaw wanted to admit it or not.


They had come a long way since Shaw was tased in her apartment in the middle of the night.


Tomas had asked her to go with him, and Shaw wanted to say yes, but she couldn’t leave. She thinks of Iraq and how it felt like home, and now, fast-forwards a few years, and two nerds, an AI, a man just as damaged as her, and a dog were now her dysfunctional home.


Shaw thinks of the words the therapist whispered to her mother when she was ten, words that made her mother cringe, and Shaw thinks that maybe he was wrong. Maybe Shaw does have an Axis ll Personality Disorder, but that doesn’t mean she is incapable of caring. She just cares in a different way, a smaller way, and a quieter way than most people.


Shaw thinks of her father, and her mother, and her partner, and her team, and of everyone she couldn’t save, and everyone she did, and the lost thought going through her head as the elevator doors closed, and the bullets punctured her skin, the last thing Shaw thought of in the war torn basement of the Stock Exchange was home.




“My dear Sameen, how does Miss Groves communicate with the Machine?” Greer asked.


The pain was excruciating. Martine was somewhere near, or was it Root?


Blond hair, no, brown hair.


“Sweetie, you can tell them, it’s alright,” Root told to her.


She looked so beautiful in the dark.


“No, they can’t know--,” Shaw started, the drugs made her feel like she was flying, like she was drowning, like she was living and dying all at once.


“It’s time, Sameen,” Root said in a reassuring tone. Something wasn’t right.


“But your colloquial implant?” Shaw asked.


“See that wasn’t so difficult,” Greer said.


Shaw shook her head, trying to clear the daze filling her mind. Where was Root?


“We’ll be moving you in a few days, so just sit tight, and get some rest. You’ve earned it,” Greer stated, rising from the chair.


The white screen in front of her turned on, as he left the room.







Shaw thought of Iraq, and how she longed for the rush that war brought. Now she was a prisoner of war, and she finally realized what Leo felt like after she saved his life, and what all the other soldiers felt like out in the sand, just wanting to go back home.


Shaw gave her life for her country, multiple times, and now trapped by Samaritan for who knows how long, Shaw would give anything for another goodbye.


Sameen Shaw didn’t care, but she cared enough.